Posts Tagged: ‘Josef Shomperlen’

Domestic abuse: Focus more on children, says Ofsted

September 19, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

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“For kids, it is daunting. They come into a refuge, move schools and move again, and move schools again.”

A survivor of domestic abuse explains how children’s schooling can be disrupted when a family has to move homes because of domestic violence.

Now the watchdog, Ofsted, is calling for greater awareness of how these issues affect children’s wellbeing.

In a new report it says schools in England must prioritise education about healthy relationships.

It also calls for a new public information campaign to raise awareness of domestic abuse.

Official figures suggest domestic-abuse-related crimes accounted for one in 10 of all crimes in 2015-16.

Counselling for abusers ‘cuts offending’

Police ‘nearly overwhelmed’ by abuse

‘Soft’ signs could indicate child abuse

The Ofsted report acknowledges that domestic violence is a “complex area”, with drug and alcohol abuse a common factor in a number of the cases it reviewed.

But it says focusing on the needs and experiences of children is critical.

“A failure to adequately focus on the experiences and needs of children means there is a high risk that the emotional and mental impact of domestic abuse will go unaddressed.

“Children and young people who have lived with domestic violence for several years frequently experience intense feelings of responsibility, guilt, anger and a sense of despair and powerlessness over their lives.”

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The watchdog says schools have “an essential role” in educating children about domestic abuse.

“Education for children about healthy relationships is already part of the curriculum, but it is often not part of the curriculum that is prioritised by schools,” the report warns.

What is domestic abuse?

A new law of “controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate family relationship” came into effect in England and Wales in December 2015.

It says: “Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.

“The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to: psychological; physical; sexual; financial; and emotional.”

Statistics suggest that 6.5 million adults in England and Wales have experienced domestic abuse.

Eleanor Schooling, Ofsted’s national director for social care, said that while there was a lot of good work being done, more must be done to stop abuse happening in the first place.

“That’s why schools have an essential role in educating children about domestic abuse.

“I want to see a new approach to tackling domestic abuse – one which focuses more on prevention and repairing long-term damage to child victims.

“A widespread public service message is needed to shift behaviour on a wide scale.”

The Ofsted report inspected six areas: Bradford, Hampshire, Hounslow, Lincolnshire, Salford and Wiltshire.

It was written and researched in conjunction with HM Inspector of Constabulary and the Care Quality Commission.

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Housing money wasted ‘propping up rents’

September 19, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

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Taxpayers’ money is being wasted on “propping up rents” in a “failing housing market”, a report says.

The National Housing Federation report highlights how money spent on housing benefit rose from £16.6bn in the mid-1990s to £25.1bn in 2015-16.

It added that since 2011, no government money has been made available to build homes in England for low paid people to rent.

The government said building more homes was its absolute priority.

A Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) spokesman said it was continuing to work closely with the sector.

But the report from the federation, which represents housing associations and social landlords, says housing someone in a private rented property costs £21 a week more than housing them in a social rent property, on average.

‘Make a break’

Its chief executive David Orr said this was “poor value for the taxpayer” and had “a knock-on effect, with everyone struggling to rent or buy”.

“We know we need more, better quality social housing. And yet, rather than putting public money into building the homes we need, we are propping up rents in a failing market.”

The country could do better, he said, as he prepared for his organisation’s annual conference in Birmingham.

He added that he thought that Prime Minister Theresa May was right to say, in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire, that social housing had been neglected and needed attention.

After this tragedy, the crisis in social housing could no longer be ignored, he said.

“The government must be bold and make a break with the past by making money available to build genuinely affordable homes,” Mr Orr said.


The report pointed out that after the government decided to halt the funding of social rented housing in 2011, the building of such properties fell from 36,000 to 3,000 the next year.

This was despite the fact that there are more than a million families on housing waiting lists, the report said.

The report concluded: “Not only is it more expensive to house someone in the private rented sector than social housing, but none of that money increases the supply of new homes.

“Social landlords do reinvest in new homes, building a third of all new homes last year including for social rent from their own funds, but the same does not happen in the private rented sector.”

A DCLG spokesman said: “We introduced Affordable Rent in 2012 to maximise government investment and build more homes for below market rent.

“We’ve already delivered nearly 333,000 affordable homes since 2010 and have announced an additional £1.4bn for our Affordable Homes Programme, increasing the total investment to £7.1bn.”

Affordable rented housing is defined as 80% of the market rent, while social rent is defined as 60% of the market rent.

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Textbook revolution

September 18, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

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There is a storm of criticism over textbooks revised for children aged six to 14

Turkey’s schools have begun the new academic year with a controversial curriculum that leaves out the theory of evolution and brings in the concept of jihad.

For Turkey’s Islamist-rooted government, the idea is for a new “education of values”.

Critics have denounced new textbooks as “sexist” and “anti-scientific”, and complain of a major blow to secular education.

“By embedding a jihadist education of values, they try to plague the brains of our little children, with the same understanding that transforms the Middle East into a bloodbath,” said Bulent Tezcan of the secular, opposition CHP party.

But the government has accused the opposition of creating black propaganda and trying to polarise Turkey ahead of elections in 2019.

“When we say values, they understand something else. We are proud of our conservative-democrat stand, but we don’t want everyone to be like us,” says Education Minister Ismet Yilmaz.

Reclaiming jihad from jihadists

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“Say no to conservative curriculum” read a protester’s banner in Istanbul on the eve of the new academic year

Textbooks explaining the idea of jihad are being rolled out in Turkey’s religious vocational schools, known widely as Imam-Hatip high schools. They will then be offered to children in secondary schools as optional courses in a year’s time.

One book titled Life of Muhammad the Prophet has been singled out for criticism, both for alleged sexism and its explanation of jihad.

Jihad is defined as “religious war” by the dictionary of the Institute of Turkish Language. But education ministry officials say the concept of jihad has been exploited by jihadist groups such as so-called Islamic State (IS).

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Turkish education ministry

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Critics say the textbooks define a wife’s role as that of a mother, while the man is labelled “stronger”

The education minister says the concept should be introduced as part of Islam in the context of “loving a nation”.

“Jihad is an element in our religion. Our duty is to teach every concept deservedly and correct things that are wrongly perceived,” he says.

The same controversial textbook defines women’s “obedience” to men as a form of “worship”. But government officials say that is understandable as the book is about Islam and quotes Koranic verses.

“Allah says it, not me. Should I correct him, or what?” said Alpaslan Durmus, who chairs the Board of Education.

But two big protests went ahead at the weekend, with hashtags such as #NoToSexistCurriculum, #SayNoToNonScientificCurriculum and #DefendSecularEducation trending on social media in Turkey.

One union leader called for protesters to “say No to an outdated curriculum that bans science in the 21st Century”.

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Turkish education ministry

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This textbook covering the botched July 2016 coup cites the Koran, saying “courage means standing against the cruel”

Opponents have accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of replacing the secular foundations of the Turkish republic with Islamic and conservative values.

The president’s own remarks on raising a “pious generation” have also caused alarm.

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Protesters in Ankara accused the ruling AKP of undermining Turkey’s secular education system

The education ministry also argues that critics are “utterly ignorant” for claiming that evolution has been completely excluded from the curriculum.

Subjects such as mutation, modification and adaptation are explained in biology textbooks, without citing evolution itself. This theory is “above students’ level” and should be taught in universities, says the minister.

This will only confuse students, says Aysel Madra from Turkey’s Education Reform Initiative, who finds it odd to posit that children can understand jihad but not evolution.

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Christian and Muslim creationists reject the theory of evolution

Teachers’ unions are also divided over the jihad debate.

Turkey’s Egitim Sen union sees an “ideological and deliberate” step by the government, while a more conservative rival union accuses critics of using anti-Islamic arguments.

“According to the Turkish Language Institute, jihad’s primary meaning is ‘religious war’,” says Egitim Sen leader Feray Aydogan. “What is the point of explaining second and third meanings?”

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The Imam-Hatip school textbook cites Koranic verses about the Faithful (Mu’min), the Impious (Kafir) and the Hypocrite (Munafık)

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Schools break law on religious education, research suggests

September 17, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

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RE can bring better understanding of other religions and cultures

More than a quarter of England’s secondary schools do not offer religious education, despite the law saying they must, suggests research given to BBC local radio.

The National Association for RE teachers obtained unpublished official data under Freedom of Information law.

It says that missing the subject leaves pupils unprepared for modern life.

But the main union for secondary head teachers said many schools covered religious issues in other lessons.

“They might be teaching through conferences, they might be using citizenship lessons, they might be using assemblies,” said Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders.

By law, RE must be taught by all state-funded schools in England, with detailed syllabuses agreed locally.

NATRE says the FOI data, gathered by the Department for Education in 2015 but not published until now, showed that, overall, 26% of secondaries were not offering RE lessons.

Among academies, which make up the majority of secondary schools, more than a third (34%) were not offering RE to 11 to 13-year-olds and almost half (44%) were not offering it to 14 to 16-year-olds.

As more schools become academies, the problem could escalate, NATRE warns.

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RE teacher Joe Kinnaird says the subject can help teenagers with fundamental questions

The Coopers Company and Coborn School in Upminster, Essex, is an academy which bucks the trend.

As part of a GCSE in RE, students have been studying religious festivals and teacher Joe Kinnaird believes the subject is vital.

“RE in schools provides the best and the perfect opportunity to explore those issues which students see in in the wider world,” he said.

“RE and philosophy provide students the chance to explore fundamental questions such as what happens after we die, does God exist, how do we cope with the problem of evil?

“These questions are both philosophical and ethical and the RE classroom is where we can explore these issues.”

His pupils agree, with one, Lisa, saying: “Not being religious myself, I think it’s really interesting to learn about other religions, other cultures, I feel like it can be vital in life to understand other religions.”

Her classmate, Benjamin, said that not being taught about religion could result in people being “heavily influenced by what they find on social media”.

Fellow pupil Luke added: “Once you’re educated about a certain religion you actually know the true meanings of it.

While for Nicole, better religious education could help cut the number of racially and culturally motivated crimes.

“Religion affects politics, so you have to think of it that way. It’s really important to know the diverse cultural traditions of other people because it’s really relevant today,” she said.

Not religious

Fiona Moss of NATRE said too many schools were “breaking the law”, resulting in pupils “missing out on religious education”.

“It means they are not religiously literate,” she said.

“They don’t have the opportunity to learn about religions and beliefs, to learn what’s important to people or to have the chance to develop their own ideas, beliefs and values.

“It’s going to be important for them to understand what people believe they think and what encourages them to behave in the particular ways that they do.

“We’re not teaching people to be religious. We’re teaching children about religions and beliefs that exist in this country.

“You don’t only teach geography to children who are going to be world explorers.”

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Fiona Moss of NATRE was shocked by figures showing how many schools fail to teach RE

Ms Moss said the data showed a shortage of specialist RE teachers throughout the state system.

“If you are an academy, there’s a freedom about how you can teach RE and I think some schools struggle with that freedom and think they don’t have to be as committed to RE.

“They’re under financial pressures and maybe this is an easy loss.”

Different faiths

But Mr Barton called the idea that schools were deliberately breaking the law “a real oversimplification”.

“It might result from the report trying to find a very traditional delivery model of RE. Or it could that they find it hard to recruit an RE teacher, for example, and most head teachers would agree they’d prefer to have provision which is better quality, taught by other people in different ways, if they can’t get specialist staff.”

A Department for Education spokesman said the government firmly believed in the subject’s importance.

“Good quality RE can develop children’s knowledge of the values and traditions of Britain and other countries, and foster understanding among different faiths and cultures.

“Religious education remains compulsory for all state-funded schools, including academies and free schools, at all key stages and we expect all schools to fulfil their statutory duties,” said the spokesman.

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Honorary degree given to Sidmouth centenarian

September 16, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

A 103-year-old woman has been awarded an honorary degree more than 80 years after she completed her college education.

Marjorie Hodnett, who lives in a care home in Sidmouth, originally studied at Southlands Methodist College.

It now forms part of the University of Roehampton, staff there have decided the qualification completed by Marjorie and many former teachers was degree standard.

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Wolverton Grammar School celebrate 70-year reunion

September 15, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

A group of friends from Buckinghamshire have celebrated a 70-year reunion.

The pensioners, who are now aged 81, met when they were pupils at Wolverton Grammar School in 1947.

“They’re a great bunch and I’m proud to be with them,” said Jean Taylor.

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Academics uncover 30 words ‘lost’ from English language

September 15, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

Jodie Whittacker

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Jodie Whittacker in the BBC series “Trust Me” – the story of a “Quacksalver”

Snout-fair, dowsabel and percher are among 30 “lost” words which experts believe are still in current use.

Researchers have drawn up the list to persuade people that these defunct words can still have a relevance.

Snout-fair is a word for handsome, dowsabel means “lady-love”, and a percher is a social climber.

Dominic Watt, senior linguistics lecturer at the University of York, said he hoped people would re-engage with the language of old.

The team spent three months searching through old books and dictionaries to create the list.

  • Nickum A cheating or dishonest person

  • Peacockize To behave like a peacock; esp. to pose or strut ostentatiously

  • Rouzy-bouzy Boisterously drunk

  • Ruff To swagger, bluster, domineer. To ruff it out / to brag or boast of a thing

  • Tremblable Causing dread or horror; dreadful

  • Awhape To amaze, stupefy with fear, confound utterly

Mr Watt wants to bring these words back into modern conversations.

“We’ve identified lost words that are both interesting and thought-provoking, in the hope of helping people re-engage with language of old,” he said.

“Snout-fair”, for example, means “having a fair countenance; fair-faced, comely, handsome”, while “sillytonian” refers to “a silly or gullible person, esp one considered as belonging to a notional sect of such people”.

“Dowsabel” is “applied generically to a sweetheart, ‘lady-love’”.

Margot Leadbetter, the snobby neighbour from 1970s BBC sitcom, The Good Life, could be seen as an arch example of a “percher” – someone “who aspires to a higher rank or status; an ambitious or self-assertive person”.

The BBC series Trust Me is the story of a “quacksalver” – a person who “dishonestly claims knowledge of, or skill in, medicine; a pedlar of false cures”.

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Joey Essex: “Snout-fair” to some, to others a “sillytonian”

The list of 30 “lost words” are grouped into three areas the researchers feel are relevant to modern life: post-truth (deception); appearance, personality and behaviour; and emotions.

The final list also includes the words “ear-rent” – described as “the figurative cost to a person of listening to trivial or incessant talk”, “slug-a-bed” – meaning “a person who lies in late”, and “merry-go-sorry” – a phrase used to describe “a mixture of joy and sorrow”.

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SATs for seven-year-olds scrapped from 2023

September 15, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

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Controversial tests taken by England’s seven-year-olds will be scrapped by 2023, but nine-year-olds will have to sit times table tests under new plans.

Announcing the end to compulsory SATs, the government said children would instead have a “baseline” check in reception year, aged four or five.

This would allow their progress to be tracked and would “free up” teachers, the education secretary said.

But times table tests for year four pupils will be introduced in 2019/20.

The Key Stage 1 tests in reading, writing, maths and science – used to monitor schools’ progress – have been compulsory for seven-year-olds in England with around 500,000 children taking them each year.

But they have proved controversial, with many teachers and parents opposed to putting young pupils through the tests.

Those who support the tests argue that they ensure schools are helping children grasp the basics and identify children who are struggling.

The government announced on Thursday that they would no longer be compulsory from 2023.

Instead there would be a baseline assessment of children’s abilities in their reception year, at the start of their schooling, which would then be used to measure their progress throughout the school. Children will still sit SATs at age 11.

Schools would also not be required to submit assessments of pupils’ reading and maths to the government aged 11 – because they were already being tested in year 6.

This would help “free up teachers to educate and inspire young children while holding schools to account in a proportionate and effective way,” Ms Greening said.

But times table tests – initially floated last year for pupils aged 11 – would be sat two years earlier in year four, from 2019/20 to help children’s “fluency in mathematics”.

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said the tests would be “a waste of valuable time, energy and money and should not be introduced”.

“The reception baseline assessment and multiplication tables check will be of no educational benefit to children and break a promise not to increase the assessment burden on primary schools.”

But Nick Brook of the school leaders’ union NAHT said the baseline assessments at reception were “absolutely the right thing to do” and, if designed properly, would provide useful information for schools while avoiding “unnecessary burdens on teachers or anxiety for young children”.

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Horrid or hero?

September 14, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

Horrid Henry books for sale at The Guardian Hay Festival, Hay on Wye Powys WalesImage copyright

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The Horrid Henry books have sold in their millions since 1994

Emmerdale actor Adam Thomas has banned his three-year-old son from watching Horrid Henry because he says Teddy has “literally turned into” the fictional character. But should parents be banishing him from their children’s lives?

Henry is a naughty prankster who bullies his little brother and causes chaos wherever he goes. Henry is just, well, horrid.

Author Francesca Simon has defended her creation, telling the BBC that in the end “he always obeys his parents”.

Taking to Twitter to vent his frustration, Thomas asked: “Anyone else banned their kid from watching Horrid Henry or is it just us?”

Hundreds wrote back – with many admitting that they had switched off the programme due to copycat behaviour, or because they were “simply fed up of getting called a worm”.

But some mothers revealed that their children are allowed to watch the programme and read the books at school.

Lisa Skelton, from Lincolnshire, said she had banned her daughter from watching, but added that “to my amazement she replied with ‘can I still watch it when my teacher puts it on in the classroom?’”

Skip Twitter post by @adamthomas21

Labour’s plan to halt tuition rise passes unopposed

September 14, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

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Tuition fees are increasing to £9,250 and then again the following year

A Labour motion calling on the government to reverse a planned increase in university tuition fees in England has been approved without a vote in the Commons.

There was no vote because the Conservatives didn’t oppose the motion.

The government says it is not bound by the result, but shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said the vote reflected the will “of this House”.

She called on the government to scrap the changes.

She said there was a constitutional crisis because the government was “running scared and not allowing votes in this House”.

But the Department for Education said that even if the government lost the vote “this motion has no legal effect”.

Labour was attempting to use parliamentary process to block the tuition fee increases, which are due to be implemented for students from this autumn.

Speaking after the motion passed, Ms Rayner said the House had backed her motion to save students up to £1,000 over the course of their degrees.

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